How to Prepare for Army Basic Training

If you want to enlist in the Army, National Guard or Army Reserves, you will have to attend Basic Training at some point.  My goal today is to share five tips to help you prepare for Basic Training, so your experience can be exciting, rewarding and successful.  I attended Boot Camp in January 1996, but these tips are just as helpful today as they were back then.

# 1 Humble Yourself

In today’s generation, people feel entitled.  They feel they deserve to have everything handed to them on a silver platter.  They don’t respect positions of authority. They think they are above the law.  If that is you, do yourself a favor and humble yourself.  Realize that you are a human being just like everyone else and that you are far from perfect.  Your, you know what, stinks just like everyone else’s. Please know upfront that you will have several Drill Sergeants shouting at you constantly for 8+ weeks.  Let go of your attitude, stop being a know it all and eat some humble pie.  Going to Basic Training with “attitude” or a “chip on your shoulder” will do you no good.

# 2 Get in Shape

Don’t get fat.  If you know you are real close to failing the Army Height and Weight standards, do something about it.  Run.  Work out.  Get a grip on your diet.  Hire a personal trainer.  Yes, your Drill Sergeant will help you get in shape, but you will be much better off if you take the time to get in shape BEFORE you even ship out.  You don’t want to be known as the “fatty” in your platoon who always finishes last on the run or can’t pass the APFT.  When you work out, do lots of push-up, sit-ups, and running.

# 3 Talk to Others Who Graduated Boot Camp Already

Another great tip to prepare for Basic Training is to sit down and talk to other people who have attended Basic Training recently.  Find out any tips you can get from them.  Ask them about the PT, marksmanship, drill and ceremony, land navigation, food, and any other topics that come to mind.  Ask them what they struggled with and how they overcame it.  Ask them what they liked most (and the least) about Basic Training.  Ask them what their best tips for success are.

# 4 Create a Game Plan for Your Family

If you have a spouse and/or kids, you need to create a game plan for your family.  Figure out who will be responsible for what while you are gone.  Have a heart to heart conversation with your spouse about their concerns and fears.  Make sure your will and living will is up to date.  Make sure your spouse has access to your bank account.  Make sure you have your bills set up on auto-pay through your bank.  Make the time to get your personal affairs in order so you don’t have to worry about it while you are away.

# 5 Familiarize Yourself with Army Terms and Acronyms

Another great tip to prepare for Basic Training is to familiarize yourself with the Army’s terms and acronyms.  Learn the military alphabet ahead of time.  Look at the rank structure and learn what you can.  Learn the general orders ahead of time.  Study the Soldier’s Creed.  Learn a little bit about the Army’s traditions and history.  All of this knowledge will really help you out once you get to Basic Training.

Final Thoughts

Basic Training is a great experience that you will never want to repeat and one that you will never forget.  Your key to success to prepare for Basic Training is to follow the tips mentioned above.  Do that and Boot Camp will be a lot easier than it will be if you don’t prepare.

What are your thoughts?  What are your best tips to prepare for Basic Training?  Leave a comment and let us know.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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4 thoughts on “How to Prepare for Army Basic Training”

  1. My son is in very good shape, both in strength and endurance. He gets all the stories from his dad, uncles and grandfathers about their boot camp experiences. I will definitely recommend that he learn the acronyms and terms but I think his biggest issue will be humbling himself. I know I’m his mother but I don’t pretend to wear rose-tinted glasses concerning my kids. My middle child can be quite arrogant. Though I preach humbleness and leaving one’s self open to suggestion and new ideas I don’t think he’s going to ‘get it’ until they break him like a horse.

  2. I really wish I would have had the opportunity to read this post before I entered Army Basic Training. Your #1 is very important. Drill Sergeants just love to knock “chips” off recruits soldiers. I know that first hand.

    You are going to Basic, it isn’t time to party and see how much beer you can hold in. It is time to work out. There are many posts within this blog that can give a new recruit good workout routines. It will help a lot if you go in in shape.

    The part about preparing your family is also very important. When you are able to call and speak with them, you really do not need to hear a bunch of family stress on top of the Basic Training stress you have.

    Great post. I hope new recruits find it before they get on the Army bus.

  3. Faith A. Coleman

    You really hit the mark by putting “humble” first. I see humility, along with courage, as the most noble qualities that a man (or woman) can have. People get confused, thinking that it means humiliating. I’ve heard it said that humility is not about tearing yourself down, it’s about building others up. I appreciate that you included taking care of the family. These suggestions would make a great training exercise – sort of basic, basic training for how to train.

    1. Being humble is my best tip. I see people at Basic Training with attitudes and I’m really surprised. It’s not as if they don’t know what they are getting themselves into. People know they will have Drill Sergeants shouting at them and ordering them around. Why make life more difficult for yourself than it has to be?

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